New campaign finance reports filed with the Public Disclosure Commission show that a political committee formed to force a statewide vote on Washington State’s recently enacted state capital gains tax on the wealthy got a significant influx of cash in March from several rich right wing donors.
The committee, helmed by longtime Republican operative J. Vander Stoep, has not disclosed its plans to the public, but its aim appears to be to qualify a measure to the November 2022 statewide ballot that would completely repeal ESSB 5096, the popular 2021 law that levied a capital gains tax on the wealthy to fund early learning, childcare, and K‑12 education.
Vander Stoep’s operation reported receiving $211,900 in cash and in-kind contributions since its last report in February. About half of that sum, $100,000, came from Stan Baty, the Vice President of Columbia Pacific Management.
Another $50,000 was provided by Mary Kay McCaw and a further $10,000 was provided by Matt McIlwain of Madrona Venture Group, a fierce and well known opponent of progressive tax reform. (McIlwain is among those who have already donated to the I‑1929 effort in months past.)
The committee also reported a significant number of new pledges, totaling $415,000, just $85,000 shy of half of a million dollars.
The pledges came from individuals and entities that have a long history of backing Tim Eyman and opposing right wing tax reform, including the Building Industry Association of Washington (BIAW Member Services Corporation) and the Puget Shound chapter of the National Electrical Contractors Association PAC.
Here’s all of the March pledges:
The committee also reported several new expenses:
- $70,000 to Moore Information, one of the Pacific Northwest’s best known Republican-aligned polling firms, for “surveys, polling, research costs”
- $27,762 to Davis Wright Tremaine for legal fees
- $12,000 to OK Industries for website and design services
- $342.16 to GoDaddy for hosting
- Multiple five figure expenditures to consultants: Peri Hall & Associates, Mark Funk Public Affairs, The Clarke Company, and R.L. Steinman & Associates
I‑1929 recently received a ballot title from the Attorney General’s office that was promptly challenged, including by disgraced initiative promoter Tim Eyman.
Vander Stoep has not involved Eyman in his I‑1929 operation, but Eyman is known for latching on to others’ efforts or hijacking them.
For instance, in 2006, Eyman launched a referendum signature drive to strip LBGTQ+ protections from Washington’s recently amended Law Against Discrimination. (The referendum did not qualify for the ballot due to Eyman’s incompetence, angering many in the religious right.)
The C4 filed on Friday by Vander Stoep’s committee only covers receipts and expenditures from March 1st — 31st, 2022. There has undoubtedly been more activity since the end of last month, which won’t have to be reported until a month from now. It’s pretty evident that Vander Stoep and his crew of right wing operatives are gearing up for a signature drive and subsequent fall campaign.
By the time the I‑1929 ballot title challenge is dispensed with, however, they will probably be left with just nine to ten weeks for signature gathering. Their hired petitioners will need to collect around 50,000 signatures per week to make it.
The cost of a successful signature drive alone might easily top $2.5 million, on top of the hundreds of thousands of dollars Vander Stoep has already spent on lawyers, pollsters, and consultants. ($12,000 for a campaign website which in all likelihood won’t have more than a few pages… really!?)
If they get on the ballot, Vander Stoep and his crew are likely planning to spend millions more to sell their scheme to give Washington’s wealthiest families a big tax break. Their ballot title, whatever it ends up being, is unlikely to sell itself: NPI’s research found last year that Washingtonians did not respond enthusiastically to a scheme proposed by Tim Eyman and Jim Walsh that tried to negatively brand the capital gains tax on the wealthy as an income tax.
Progressive leaders from SEIU 775NW, WEA, WFSE, Civic Ventures, and the Washington Budget & Policy Center have formed a coalition to oppose I‑1929, No Tax Cut for the Super Rich, which filed its C1 registration on March 25th.
NPI’s Permanent Defense project, which has been successfully combating right wing initiatives for over twenty years, will be doing its part to ensure that I‑1929 is defeated should it qualify for the ballot. Our research has consistently found public support for a capital gains tax on the wealthy. We’re confident that if Washingtonians understand that I‑1929 would slash education funding to enable Vander Stoep’s wealthy benefactors to get a big tax cut, they’ll vote no.